OAKLAND — In a game-deciding duel between 6-foot-10 NBA All-Star Kevin Love and 6-foot-7 rookie second-round pick Draymond Green, it’s not surprising rebounding and interior baskets provided the difference in Saturday’s game between the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Golden State Warriors.
It is hard to imagine what a man feels when he scores his first NBA basket. After years of hard work, effort, and luck, the player has followed through on one of his dreams and accomplished something truly meaningful. His name will appear in the record book forever as an NBA scorer, someone who managed to put the ball in the basket against the best in the world. It stands to reason that a player might let his emotions run wild in the moments after his first basket.
That’s exactly what happened to Golden State Warriors rookie forward Draymond Green in the second quarter of Wednesday night’s home game against the Atlanta Hawks. With 8:30 remaining in the half, Green took a pass from Jarrett Jack at the top of the arc and knocked down an open three-pointer. It was a big shot for Green, an All-American and Big Ten Player of the Year at Michigan State. After 37 minutes in seven games, he had only a single point to his name after splitting a pair of free throws and missing his first nine field goal attempts.
So, naturally, Green shouted a little bit as he backpedaled to the other end of the court. As is their right, the officials hit him with a technical foul for taunting. While we don’t know exactly what Green said, the call seemed a little excessive given the circumstances. Maybe they just didn’t know. It’s almost like the basketball gods were sending the rookie a message: just when it seems like things are going well, the game will serve up a lesson in humility.
During this offseason, it was apparent that the signings of both Brandon Rush and Carl Landry could be linked together. With both players having Mark Bartelstein as their agent, their arrival to the Bay Area and the Golden State Warriors was expected after the signing of rookie Draymond Green for a three-year, $2.6 million deal on Monday. Surprisingly, both players will join the team for the same price despite taking different journeys to get here.
The Golden State Warriors is finally near completion after signing rookie forward Draymond Green. According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, the Warriors have reached agreement on a three-year, $2.6 million deal with the second-round pick. Wojnarowski went on to add that the Warriors had a team option for Green’s third year of his rookie deal with only $250,000 of his $900,000 salary guaranteed.
As a second-round pick with a game that many think may not translate to the NBA, he’s already fighting an uphill battle. He’s a tweener who lacks elite athleticism, and he may struggle to defend both forward positions.
Naturally, everyone loves an underdog—and Warrior fans are notorious for their fierce, occasionally blinding loyalty. Despite all that, there was still some skepticism about Green. But in a 10-minute conversation, Green won over whatever holdouts there might have been.
From the interview, we learned that Green is uniquely thoughtful. When asked about the difficulty of having his fate hang in the balance for two full hours during the NBA draft, he answered with a surprisingly philosophical perspective. Said Green:
The one thing we try to avoid in life is uncertainty. You always want to know what you’ve got coming up; you always want to know what’s going on. And that’s the entire NBA draft process—just uncertainty. So you’re living a month-and-a-half, two months of your life just uncertain about what happens next. Then you get down to those last few hours…and you’ve just got to keep patiently waiting.
Pretty impressive, right?
Even more impressive than Green’s take on the draft was the way he eased any concerns about his conditioning and work ethic. In doing so, Green gave an extremely honest self-assessment in recounting the moment when he learned what it meant to truly push himself:
The summer going into my junior year…I was doing cardio, and I just kept running and kept running, and I caught a second wind. And I was telling coach Izzo that day, ‘Coach, I caught a second wind today.’ I never ran hard enough…to the point where I even knew I had a second wind.
Green finished the thought by mentioning a quotation he’d read on the subject, saying, “You never know how hard or how fast you can go…unless you push yourself to that point.”
That sentiment from Green is, by far, the most encouraging sign for his pro potential. He’s realized at an early age that his talents could take him far, but that he would have to push himself to maximize them.
In learning that he’s capable of pushing himself beyond his limits, he’s shown that he’s got the ability to work through the perceived shortcomings in his game. And realistically, Green is going to have to outwork most players in the league because they’ve got better physical tools than he does.
Draymond Green is not a typical NBA player. But maybe that’s a a good thing. His introspection and honesty about his abilities could serve him well on the rough road ahead.
One thing’s for sure, though: He’s won me over. And we should all be rooting for Draymond Green.
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It’s unclear if the Warriors will be able to afford the veteran power forward, who earned $8.5 million with the New Orleans Hornets last season. If Golden State can bring in Landry, though, it will be adding another player to its new and improved frontcourt.
After trading for the often-injured Andrew Bogut last season, the Warriors have made a concerted effort to add size and quality up front. They drafted North Carolina small forward Harrison Barnes, Vanderbilt center Festus Ezeli, Michigan State forward Draymond Green and Bosnian center Ognjen Kuzmic.
Now, they are looking to add a proven veteran in Landry. The 28-year-old Landry has played for three teams during the course of his five-year career, averaging 12.1 points and 5.1 rebounds in 24.9 minutes per game during that span.
Last season, he put up 12.5 points and 5.2 rebounds per game for New Orleans. He was also very efficient, sinking 50.3 percent of his field goals and 79.9 percent of his free throws. Unfortunately, he was only able to play in 41 games, mainly because he suffered a sprained left MCL in February.
Still, Landry has proven time and time again that he’s a quality role player. If the Warriors can bring him in, and if Landry can stay healthy, they will have made one of the more underrated signings of the 2012 offseason.
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Just because the NBA draft is over doesn’t mean all the hard work is done and all of the draftees have earned instant tickets to NBA stardom.
Most of the newly anointed rookies are going to need stellar performances in the Summer League to solidify themselves as worthy of roster spots. If they don’t, they’ll be relegated to the Development League, and who knows how long it will take them to escape from there?
Anyone who is on the bubble at the moment needs to be excellent during the Summer League games, or else those players might have shown their new front offices everything they need to know, which unfortunately could be that those players aren’t quite ready for the big time.
Here’s a look at some of the players who must go big or suffer the consequences this summer.
Quincy Miller, Denver Nuggets
38th Overall Pick
First Game: July 14 vs. Golden State
Miller was a player who, at the beginning of the season, was originally projected to be a lottery pick, but after undergoing surgery to repair his ACL, he never quite managed to live up to the hype. On paper, he looked great: 6’10″, 219-pound small forward with a 7’1″ wingspan. Ideally, he has the size to play either the 3 or the 4, he’s athletic and he plays good defense.
However, as a freshman, Miller’s numbers were far from stellar: He averaged 10.6 points, 4.9 rebounds and 1.8 turnovers in 24.4 minutes per game and showed a tendency to fire away from the perimeter with too many misses.
Now that he’s been named to the Nuggets’ Summer League roster, he has an opportunity to show that he’s improved his ability to knock down those shots and that his defense is worth a roster spot.
Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors
35th Overall Pick
First Game: July 13 vs. L.A. Lakers
Green could’ve been drafted at the end of the first round, but instead, he fell to the Warriors at No. 35. If he pans out, he could end up being a steal, despite the fact that he’s on the small side as a 6’8″ small forward (he’s listed at 6’8″, though he’s actually closer to 6’6″).
Some pundits had him going in the first round of the draft because he was a four-year player under Tom Izzo who proved to be a winner, a very smart player, a good passer and someone who could knock down his shots from all over the court. But Green’s size—and the fact that he’s not tall enough to play the 4, but isn’t really quick enough to play the 3—were concerning enough to knock him out of the first round.
During the Summer League schedule, he has a terrific opportunity to prove that he’s a good enough shooter, smart enough and experienced enough to get a roster spot.
Tyshawn Taylor, Brooklyn Nets
41st Overall Pick
Next Game: July 12 vs. Oklahoma City
Taylor saw his teammate Thomas Robinson go in the top five, but he was a bit too much of a wild card to establish himself as a first-rounder, despite the fact that he helped the overachieving Jayhawks get all the way to the national championship game this season.
The primary reason for his slip in the draft is the fact that he’s far from a complete player, despite being a combo guard with exceptional speed and athleticism. His shot isn’t quite there, his range isn’t there, his ball handling isn’t there and he proved to be too inconsistent in his decision-making.
Despite all that, though, it’s impossible for the Nets to avoid taking a chance on him, given his ideal size (6’4″, 177 pounds) and his quickness. Plus, now that Deron Williams has agreed to terms with the Nets, there could be a terrific mentor in the house for the rookie.
Taylor’s mission throughout the Summer League schedule must be to prove that he can be more consistent and can get his shot where it needs to be. He’s off to a rocky start—he went 4-for-9 from the field but had seven turnovers in a loss to the Celtics on Tuesday—and has displayed precisely the type of poor decision-making scouts feared.
He really needs to turn it around in order to establish himself as worthy of a roster spot, because time is winding down for him.
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Things are looking up for the Golden State Warriors, since they might have finally found the core that they have long been searching for.
Entering the 2012 NBA draft, the Warriors may not have had the highest expectations with what they could get with the seventh overall pick. However, instead of trading their pick, they stuck with it and saw several players fall, including one that may turn out to be a perfect fit.
That man is Harrison Barnes, the small forward coming out of North Carolina. It was a pleasant surprise to see Barnes slip out of the top five, even as the projected second-best player in his position in this year’s draft.
Barnes adds to the talented core of the Warriors, which already includes Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, David Lee and Andrew Bogut. While he may not be a starter from the get-go, Barnes is slated to be the small forward of the future for the Warriors. He may even benefit more from playing behind a seasoned veteran like Richard Jefferson, who was once a great player in his own right.
Even with this current core in place, there may be some growing pains, especially with the young talent. That’s why it may seem like a better idea to get some experienced, proven players in free agency instead of giving the young guns a few seasons to fully mesh and develop.
The problem with that, however, is that the Warriors are not exactly in a position with much cap-space flexibility. Without even having new rookies Barnes, Draymond Green and Festus Ezeli on the payroll yet, Golden State has about $56 million committed to their roster. Big contracts like Bogut’s, Lee’s and Jefferson’s are all taking up a lot of the cap room, which means that the Warriors are unable to really make any significant pick-ups.
The biggest needs for Golden State are in the depth of their roster, as they could use some extra help at the big-man positions. Though they do have several options for players to re-sign from free agency (Mickell Gladness, Mikki Moore, Dominic McGuire), they do also have options already on their roster.
Big-man rookie Festus Ezeli was a value pick for the Warriors who may be trying to shed the ridiculously overpaid Andris Biedrins. Even if they kept Biedrins, he and Ezeli could form a decent backup crew for the power forward and center positions on the Warriors. Biedrins does only have one more year on his contract, plus a player option, so the burden isn’t overwhelming for the Warriors in terms of cap room.
In terms of other depth within the team, the Warriors still also have Dorrell Wright, Brandon Rush and Charles Jenkins, who can all play multiple positions if needed. Of these players, Wright may be expendable since the small forward of the future appears to be Barnes.
On top of that, rookie Draymond Green could become Barnes’ long-term understudy with the anticipated departure of the aging Richard Jefferson sometime in the near future. If the Warriors dealt Wright to a team in need of a good-shooting wing player, they could get a decent pure power forward in exchange or maybe an upgraded backup for Stephen Curry.
What I’m getting at here is that the Warriors don’t have to go out and look for some good free agents to overpay, because they have some good talent already signed to them. The current starting lineup is a very promising one for Golden State—if they can all stay healthy.
Curry and Thompson are two very good offensive threats that can shoot the lights out in the backcourt. Barnes will benefit from not having to carry his team offensively right away, and it will give him ample time to come off the bench and learn the game at a more steady pace. Lee and Bogut may be one of the better frontcourt tandems in the NBA, and they will do a great job cleaning up the glass on both ends of the floor. They also bring a nice veteran presence to a young team that still has plenty of growing to do.
Overall, this Golden State Warriors squad is looking like one of the best ones in recent memory. One of the greatest parts of this is that they are relatively young, with Jefferson being the only potential starter over the age of 30.
The results may not come right away for the Warriors and their fans, but this is a patient franchise and fanbase that will certainly give this young group time to develop their games and grow as a team. Though the past few years have been tough in Oakland, there may finally be a reason to instill some hope into this season’s Golden State Warriors.
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COMMENTARY| The leadership factor was Draymond Green’s greatest attribute. His play-making ability, while also strong, was secondary.
COMMENTARY| It’s probably best that Draymond Green wasn’t selected in the first round of the 2012 NBA Draft — although he was viewed as a potential candidate for such a pick.